I like writing. Even more, I like having written. I like the discipline of writing to order and on schedule. But I could never have been a journalist because I am a painfully slow reader. Digesting press releases on the hoof, ahead of press conferences and deadlines, would just not have been my forte, and I take months getting through even the shortest of books. Which is why it was only yesterday that I published my review of the excellent Hops & Glory by Pete Brown, despite having been sent a copy shortly after it was published.
I had an English IPA sitting in my beer fridge and I reckoned I may as well crack it open to mark the end of my own two month voyage (of the armchair variety) to India with Pete. It's Fuller's India Pale Ale and comes in a bottle with a breathtakingly classy royal purple label. 5.3% ABV and bottle conditioned: this is a beer going all-out for the IPA purist -- the people who'll buy it based on the words "faithfully recreated" on the back label. Close your eyes, imagine a balmy tropical evening on the veranda, and try to ignore the way your beer smells of vomit.
It does smell of vomit, though, and this acidic harshness carries through into the flavour. There's a good body under it, and a hint of caramel sweetness, but those utterly unfruity bitter hops are very hard to get past and make the end beer really quite unpleasant to drink.
Prior to cracking the bottle open I had been drinking Big Daddy IPA by Speakeasy in California, recently on tap in the Bull and Castle as a limited-time guest beer. Here, there are firm and fruity mandarin and grapefruit notes in super-smooth harmony with the caramel malts. Mrs Beer Nut suggests that the Fuller's beer is just suffering by comparison, but I disagree: whatever way it's looked at, I think it's simply a poor quality beer. Crank up the alphas, throw in more crystal, then we'll talk.
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